Summary: Sermon on evangelism
It is a point of history that two of the greatest English evangelist that ever America, John Westley and George Whitefield, disagreed on certain doctrinal matters. While Whitefield was a Calvinist, Westley was not. However both of them were very successful in bring many people to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It was once reported that someone asked Westley if he expected to see Whitefield in heaven, Westley replied, "No, I do not."
The person then asked, "Then you do not think Whitefield is a converted man?"
"Of course he is a converted man," stated Westley, "But I do not expect to see him in heaven- because he will be so close to the throne of God and I so far away that I will not be able to see him!"
Now I must admit that a read this story in two separate places, and one has Whitefield saying this about Westley and the other as Westley saying it about Whitefield. But what is important is that when you look at how these two men interacted with each other, it is clear that either could have said it. You see they did not let their secondary doctrinal differences stand in that way of what was really important, and that was the Christ was being preached and people were getting saved. They did not seek to oppose each others ministries, but both rejoiced in the fact that souls were being won for Christ.
Now if only we could be like that. We have all been to church meeting were feelings have been hurt, were things have been that ought not have been said. And it all comes about because we take our eyes off the reason we are here, to see Christ preached. And as we look at our passage for today we can see that for Paul it did not matter as what motivated the individual what matter is that Christ was preached.
Turn with me please to our passage for today which comes from the book of Philippians chapter 1 verses 15-18;
"Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice."
If you recall last week we noted hope God had used Paul’s imprisonment for the advancement of the gospel. Paul was used to influence nonbelievers, the palace guard, and as the Scripture stated "all the rest". Paul was also used to encourage the believers, in that they to became bold in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In our passage for today Paul tells of some other people who were not all that happy about Paul being around as well as those who Paul speaks of in verse 14.
In verse 15 see Paul speak of two different classes of People. We have those who were preaching Christ from envy and strife and those who are preaching Christ from good will.
In studying this verse there seems to be a difference of opinion as to who these people were who were so envious of Paul. Some commentators stated that they were Judizers, those who wished to mix the law with grace. They taught one had to accept Christ and follow the law in order to gain salvation.
Others hold the view that these people were those who were simply jealous of Paul. It is this view that I am inclined to accept. Paul is very clear in stating that these people were in fact preaching salvation through Christ. He does not say that they are preaching false doctrine. They were in fact preaching the true doctrine Paul is in this passage stating the spirit in which they were preaching the gospel. Their gospel was pure but there motives were not. You can be sure that if these people had been preaching a false gospel Paul would have certainly warned the people.
I just want to jump ahead to chapter 3 verse 2 very briefly here. Listen to the words Paul uses for those who preach a different gospel. "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!"
These are the type of words Paul uses for those who preach a different gospel or another Jesus.
In our passages he uses no such words as he is attacking there motives not their message.
We need to realize that there was a church in Rome before the arrival of Paul. So we cannot doubt that there would have been certain prominent men in the church. It may be suggested that with the arrival of Paul and they his fame spread throughout the city that these men had maybe lost some of that prominence. Perhaps it was this type of men which Paul refers to here. Men who were preaching the gospel but, did so with envy towards Paul.